March 2009

The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.





Minnesota has a number of species on the state endangered, threatened, or “of special concern” list. How far have we come in helping to protect and re-establish these populations?

Minnesota has a total of 96 endangered, 101 threatened and 242 special concern species. The management and recovery of Minnesota's listed species is a major responsibility of the DNR, and species such as the gray wolf, trumpeter swan, peregrine falcon and bald eagle are recovering in response to these efforts.

The agency has also discovered additional populations of some listed species, such as the threatened Blanding's turtle. Other species, like the endangered Higgin’s Eye Pearly Mussel, have a brighter future thanks to captive breeding and release programs.

The DNR also is actively managing for the recovery of the Karner Blue Butterfly, Timber Rattlesnake, Topeka Shiner (minnow) and many other plant and animal species. As some species rebound, others, such as the piping plover, continue to decline due to a loss of habitat.

Federal funds and private landowner assistance is key to the success of many programs. For example, the agency uses Nongame Wildlife Checkoff donations to match federal wildlife grant and other funds to protect Minnesota's endangered and threatened wildlife species.

- Richard Baker, endangered species coordinator, DNR Division of Ecological Resources


After a long winter, Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, ditches, ravines and wetlands are in need of a good cleaning to remove accumulated garbage. Does the DNR have a program where people can volunteer to help clean public waters, and if so, what does it involve?

The DNR’s Adopt-a-River Program helps volunteers organize their own cleanup by providing a free “how-to” kit, bags and gloves, recognition for their effort, and other assistance as needed. An annual clean up is required, and many people decide to do clean ups several times per year. Although adopting does not give property rights to those who adopt stretches of a river, it does help develop a sense of responsibility and participation in the welfare of their community and public waters. Since 1989, there have been more than 2,200 clean ups, involving more than 75,000 volunteers, who have removed more than 5 million pounds of rubbish, from approximately 9,000 miles of shoreline. For more information visit the DNR’s Web site at

- Paul E. Nordell, DNR Adopt-A-River Program coordinator


Many landowners use ATVs strictly for agriculture-related purposes, meaning the machines never leave their property. Do they need to purchase a three-year license for their ATVs?

Landowners using ATVs solely for agricultural activities or harvesting wood, or exclusively on private property, can purchase a permanent registration sticker for their machine instead of the public use license, which has to be renewed every three years.

The cost for the permanent license is a one-time fee of $14.50 and is valid until the ownership of the ATV is transferred. The private use registration license is not transferable.

ATV’s 25 years and older are exempt from registration if they were originally manufactured as ATV’s, not cobbled together from spare parts.

Additional licensing requirements for ATVs and other Off-Highway Vehicles can be found in the 2008-09 Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations handbook, or on the DNR’s Web site.

- Steve Michaels, program director, DNR License Center


Woodpeckers can be seen occasionally mistaking the side of a house for a tree. Why is this? And, is there anything homeowners can do to keep the birds from drilling a hole in their homes?

Woodpeckers drill holes in the side of homes for several reasons. Sometimes they are after insects and larvae found in and under the home's siding. Other times woodpeckers are pecking to attract a mate, make a hole for a nesting spot or to establish a territory. There are some effective techniques for discouraging woodpeckers.  Bird scare tape or bird scare balloons are two helpful products, and can be purchased at stores that sell bird feed. You can find more information on the DNR’s Web site. The DNR also has a packet containing helpful tips and other information for homeowners with woodpecker problems. To obtain a copy, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Woodpecker Packet, Box 25, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

- Lori Naumann, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program



DNR Question of the Week Archive